Enneagram spiritual work has been explored by many of the great teachers: Riso and Hudson, Beatrice Chestnut, and Richard Rohr to name a few. All of them seem to agree that the Enneagram is an excellent tool for spiritual, as well as personal, growth. Riso and Hudson talk about what they call “the Essence”, which others might call the Universe, God, Divine, or True Self. “[Even] the most traumatic childhood experiences cannot damage or destroy our Essence. Our Essence is still pure and untarnished, although it is constricted and obscured by the structures of our personality.” (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Riso & Russ Hudson, pg. 35) Thus, Enneagram spiritual work is done to travel back to our Essence. To peel back the layers of personality that have hidden our True Selves and discover that, in fact, we are so much more than a number; we are infinite possibility.
In his book, The Sacred Enneagram, Christopher L. Heuertz explains how we can identify the spiritual growth and spiritual regression patterns of each number. He provides charts of the passions and virtues of all the numbers. Here Enneagram Paths has taken the names of each passion and virtue from the charts and expanded them to include examples of behaviors and attitudes found in each number. The Sacred Enneagram is one of the best books on Enneagram spirituality and is highly recommended.
The Passion Paths: Lead to Darkness, Disintegration, and Brokeness in Relationship to Self, God, and Others.
Type 1: Anger which leads to a fixation on resentment. The Type One fears that they are imperfect and defective, and become overzealous in finding and correcting the perceived flaws in both themselves and others. The inability to ever find true perfection as a human leads to a simmering and suppressed rage. The suppression of the rage is what fuels their resentment. “Why can’t everyone else see and do things the right way, like me?” They exhaust themselves with this anger and compulsion.
Type Two: Pride or Self-Abnegation which leads to a fixation on Flattery. They give and give and give and deny their own needs in order to feed a lost sense of self-worth. They tend to have weak boundaries and confuse putting others first as love. They can become seductive, intrusive, and/or passive aggressive to win others — all an unspoken and often unconscious attempt to get their needs met.
Type Three: Deceit which leads to a fixation on Vanity. The Three in unhealth isn’t necessarily lying, they are bending the truth to serve their own need to succeed and thus prove their worth. Playing with words, telling half-truths, and selling something are all tricks Threes use to get others on board with their schemes and stroke their vanity. They often deceive themselves, not having a clear understanding of their own emotional landscape.
Type Four: Envy which leads to the fixation of Melancholy. The Four has an ideal outcome for everything and when their ideals fail to materialize, they are quick to see how everyone else’s life has worked out. The envy of others leads them down a dark path of depression and a miasma of low self-esteem. They swim in their sadness and disappointment.
Type Five: Avarice which leads to the fixation of Stinginess. Avarice is the excessive desire for gain. A Five can have an unquenchable need to hoard their resources. They gather their time, knowledge, energy, and material possessions around them like a dragon sitting atop a mountain of treasure. They feel inadequate and incompetent and hoarding all this stuff makes them feel safe. The cost of this attitude is stinginess. A Five who has let avarice take over will believe the universe is scarce. Thus, generosity with their resources is a source of danger and fear.
Type Six: Fear which leads to Cowardice. Sixes can focus much of their time and attention on the worst case scenarios. They are afraid to be alone, without the support and guidance of a group or person. When a Six gives into their overwhelming sense of fear about literally everything, they become cowardly, unwilling to step outside whatever safe comfort zone they have established. They refuse to open their minds to new ideas, to trust new people, or to try new things.
Type Seven: Gluttony which leads to the fixation of Planning. The passion of gluttony for a Seven means that they can become obsessed with the need for more. More food, more fun, more pleasure, more adventure, more money, more life! When a Seven cannot place healthy restrictions on themselves, they find they can never “be” in the present moment. They can’t enjoy what’s happening right now because their mind is busy whirling, trying to figure out how the next thing will be even better.
Type Eight: Lust which leads to the fixation of Vengeance. Eights lust for intensity, for a constant challenge—which can manifest in self-destructive behaviors. They are extremely confrontational with both themselves and others and feel compelled to make people pay for the ways they have betrayed the Eight (even though the Eight is likely to have started the fight in the first place).
Type Nine: Sloth which leads to the fixation of Indolence. A Nine will check out of life, becoming inactive and numbing themselves. They are unaware of their inner life and don’t care to be included in the external life of the world. They say whatever will keep the peace and can often be found sleeping, unable to cope with the demands of both their own feelings and the feelings of others.
The Virtue Paths: Lead to Light, Integration, Love of Self, God, and Others.
Type One: Serenity which leads to the Godlike quality of Holy Perfection. When Ones can accept that nothing in life is ever 100% perfect and at the exact same time there is a delight to be found in the imperfections of life — they are able to accept themselves, others, and circumstances with calm serenity. They understand the divine beauty in all things and let go of the desire for everything to be right. Everything is already exactly what it needs to be right now.
Type Two: Humility which leads to the Godlike quality of Holy Will or Holy Freedom. When a Type Two is spiritually growing they own their needs without shame and allow others to gift them with love. The ability to receive is wonderful for a Two, it teaches them healthy humility— a place of strength for a Two. They are then free to give to others in the way that God gives, with abandon, generosity, and no strings attached.
Type Three: Authenticity which leads to the Godlike quality of Holy Harmony/Hope. When a Three does their spiritual work and accepts that they are loved not for what they do, but for who they are, they move out into the world with their authentic selves. They are able to use their high-energy and drive to motivate a group towards worthy goals. They also provide others with grounded, realistic optimism founded on the great hope of a loving God.
Type Four: Equanimity which leads to the Godlike quality of Holy Origin. A healthy Four will understand that their emotions are the sea, constantly ebbing and flowing, all the drops of water part of the whole. This leads them to be at peace with their emotional state, accepting the rise and fall of the waves of feeling. Their Godlike quality understands that they are unique and special… and so is everyone else. They bring an awareness of the authentic, unique divine that resides within each person.
Type Five: Detachment which leads to the Godlike quality of Holy Omniscience. A Five who has done spiritual work realizes the health in dissociating their thought life from outcomes. They detach from the need to think everything through in order to protect themselves and their resources. This allows them access to the divine power of energy and good detachment. They are able to assess situations with great wisdom and a Yoda-like-all-knowingness.
Type Six: Courage which leads to the Godlike quality of Holy Strength. When a Six stops doubting themselves they find an inner wellspring of courage. Instead of engaging in mental acrobatics about worse-case scenarios, a spiritually healthy Six will move through their lives with purpose and great strength. They understand that God is their authority and safe space and can even become leaders, confident and resilient.
Type Seven: Sobriety which leads to the Godlike quality of Wisdom, Holy Work, or Holy Plan. A Seven who can learn to practice sobriety calms down their need for more. They are able to feel the full spectrum of their emotions and inhabit each moment exactly as it comes. This enables them to bring wisdom, a focused calling/work, and/or ideas about the divine order of the universe to the world.
Type Eight: Innocence which leads to the Godlike quality of Truth. When an Eight falls hard enough they become vulnerable and open themselves up to huge tender hearts that have been buried for so long. They become a protector of those wronged. They look out for the vulnerable with all the power and innate strength of will they have at their disposal. They are great advocates for social justice causes.
Type Nine: Action which leads to the Godlike quality of Holy Love. Nines in health will be active peacemakers. They will recognize their own firm beliefs and then seek life paths that are actively inclusive, making sure others experience love, inclusion, and acceptance. They can truly understand and accept everyone’s point of view (much like the divine source from which we all come).